Summary: EOLS: Jesus’ enemies will be crushed and His people will be gathered to be with Him for eternity. No one knows the day or hour of His return.
The Rapture Ready Sermon
EOLS: Jesus’ enemies will be crushed and His people will be gathered to be with Him for eternity.
I can’t wait till Saturday May 21, 2011 at 6pm or so to write my sermon. So I’m doing it well in advance, and I’m going to go ahead and go out on a limb here. The Rapture didn’t happen. There again, I may be the only one here on Sunday!
I’ve been hearing the hoopla for months now. Once you’ve lived awhile you’ve seen these things come and go many times. It seems like every few years someone with a wide voice will broadcast a date for the end of time, only to have it fall to the ground. Even as I type, well before the anticipated hour I can guarantee you that this latest group of prognosticators have a failsafe in hand to explain what went wrong! I’ve told you all the funny story about “Eighty Eight Reasons Why Jesus Will Come in 1988.”
I grew up during the peak of the Cold War, and we were bombarded with dire predictions about what could happen. Do you remember the “fall-out shelter” signs? Couple the Cold War and its fear along with the rise of the mysterious computer, and mix it with some Biblical prophecy torn from its context and interpreted in a wooden twentieth century lens and you have a recipe for paralyzing fear!
I can remember as a kid watching the movies and hearing the preachers and my worst fear was to be “left behind.” Did you ever come into a place where you expected people to be, and found yourself alone and the first thought you have is “Oh no it’s happened and I didn’t make it!”
In the nineties, the “Left Behind” fiction made hundreds of millions of dollars while promoting this event we know as “The Rapture.”
As I meditated on today’s sermon, in light of the “rapture frenzy” I thought it might be an opportune time to take a look at a few things the Bible really does say about the Lord’s return. A lot of what we hear that stirs fear is nothing more than a pre-defined, man –designed template being laid down across the pages of Scripture.
Too often we see what we want to see when we come to the Bible with our minds already programmed in a certain direction. Just for a few minutes, let’s step into history and hear with the ears of first century Jews, and see what Jesus had to say about His own return for His people.
I don’t plan to settle it for you today. Christians have argued this thing to death for centuries now, and good people line up on every corner of the board when it comes to discussing the end times. What I hope to do is let you see through the veil of uncertainty and understand that we’re not talking about something that should cause the child of God to fear.
One of the greatest issues we face is-our God is too small. We can’t grasp all of His plan, His character, His greatness at once, so we lay down a wooden template and begin to see and explain Him in terms that we can grasp.
In our limited view of God, it’s often difficult to embrace His love and His judgments concurrently. We need to look to His revealed character and what He desires in us. One of the most comforting and empowering verses in the entire Scriptures comes to my mind:
(7) for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
NO fear! The power of a soldier ready for battle, the love of a son or daughter for their wonderful giving and loving father, and the self-disciplined and controlled mind and composure to trust Him in all things and to not panic or give over to ridiculous speculation!
There’s certain things we can see from the Scriptures that we can all agree on, and they’re plain as the nose on your face. It doesn’t take special knowledge or calculations; it’s so simple a child can see it.
(1) "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
(2) In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
(3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
(4) And you know the way to where I am going."
(5) Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?"